Bless This House

An HB Staged Reading

Playwright: Lawrence DuKore

Director: Manfred Bormann

Bless This House was performed October 15th -16th

Synopsis: This is a four-character play set in the Red Hook/waterfront section of Brooklyn in 1932. It is the story of a dysfunctional Jewish family and the search by the son, 16 year-old Harry, to come to terms with his parents – and with himself. The father, Benjamin, is a wife beater whose craft as a glazier (creating stained glass windows for churches) belies his abusive nature. His wife, Bessie, is a seemingly willing victim, a peasant woman who escaped from Russia and was eventually “found” by Benjamin on a “shopping tour” of London. One night, Harry comes upon Benjamin about to whip the passive Bessie. The boy grabs a carving knife and threatens to cut his father, whereupon he is ordered out of the house forever.

Earlier, Harry had met and fallen in love with a girl named Lucy, a Jew in name only, an acknowledged atheist, whose parents were left wing, union organizers. Harry, now banished from his house, is going to live with an uncle, a rabbi, living in far off Iowa. The leave-taking, the separation of the teenagers, is painful for both of them.

Act Two is three years later. Harry and Lucy are married and have a year old baby boy. Bessie begs her son to visit his father, if only to see the grandson. And Harry does comply, returning to the house of his birth, albeit with deep anger and resentment. Benjamin is thrilled to be a grandfather and gushes over the baby boy. But Harry continues his quest to learn everything he can about his parents, where they came from, how they met, etc. The “dirty little secret” about his mother is a shocker. He is furious when he finds out that his mother was a prostitute. In his fury, he lashes out at his mother. The good son has become, in an instant, the bad father. Hopefully, in time, the young man will be a better father and a better husband.